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2020 International Convention Update

2020 International Convention Cancellation

After careful consideration of the options and ramifications, and out of an abundance of caution and concern for our members and fans, the Barbershop Harmony Society has made the determination that the COVID-19 pandemic has made it impossible and irresponsible to continue to host the 2020 International Convention in Los Angeles this summer. This cancellation will impact the 2020 International Quartet Contest, International Chorus Contest, Next Generation Barbershop Varsity Quartet Contest and Chorus Invitational, HU in LA Education Day, BHS Awards Gala, AIC Show, World Harmony Showcase, and all related convention events scheduled to be held on-site.

Over the past week, BHS staff members and Society leaders have turned over every stone we could think of to avoid this conclusion. We’ve consulted with stakeholders across the entire organization and studied the legal and financial impacts. A virtual contest, postponement, and many, many other solutions have been considered.

The conversation always comes back to: Will this keep our members safe?
In the end, we are unwilling to create any reason for members to gather in groups to prepare for video submissions or events in the near future -- we know how driven and passionate you are about being your best! We urge you to follow guidelines about self-quarantining and sheltering in place, even when it comes to singing.

Acknowledging our loss

Seeing the cancellation of all of our spring District events and now International is, in a word, heartbreaking. We know that this will leave a gaping hole in the lives and hearts of the barbershoppers everywhere who look forward to these annual events with anticipation and excitement. We are losing our family reunions, the final tournament to crown the best of the best, the thousands of musical moments that happen in stairwells and hallways and lobbies, the culmination of months and sometimes years of preparation, the continuity of our history, our chance to experience once-in-a-lifetime performances together. It is a loss. There is grief that each person will feel differently and at their own pace -- relief for some, great sadness for others, and everything in between.

Yes, it’s “just barbershop,” and we know that there are far more critical and life-threatening things that people all over the world are coping with. But we also know first-hand about the lifeline that barbershop can be and how so many of you rely on this community in ways that go far beyond the music.

Moving forward…together

We join you in feeling this loss deeply. And, we encourage you to focus on what letting go of that grief might bring: the gift of time, a season of growth without the pressure of competition, an opportunity to adjust focus and learn new things, release of a feeling of obligation, the appreciation of building friendships all across the world, a profound joy in reconnecting once we are able to gather again.

The Barbershop Harmony Society is more than a single event. The heart of BHS is you -- your quartet, your chapter, your chorus, your weekly afterglow, your tag parties, your singing family. While that looks and feels limited at the moment, that spirit remains. Even apart, we can and will continue to Keep the Whole World Singing.


A decision like this is not made in isolation and creates a large ripple effect. There are many more details to share that are currently being finalized, both by BHS staff and the organizations that were planning events within the convention.

A Frequently Asked Questions page has been compiled to address as many of these related events and activities as we can.


Individuals who have already purchased a registration for Los Angeles 2020 will have the option to:

(a) carry over the registration to Cleveland 2021

(b) receive a full refund

(c) donate the registration amount (in part or in whole) to support the Barbershop Harmony Society and BHS programs.

Questions about hotel and travel refunds?
Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.


That decision is still pending.

With the pace of information changing so quickly and because it meets 4 weeks AFTER the International convention, Harmony University planners believe that, for now, it is in our best interests to wait until April to make a decision. HU does not require gathering in groups to prepare in advance and we have always had a full refund option available to attendees.

We will continue to monitor world events and work with our partners at Belmont University to determine the next steps.